Friday, December 31, 2010

My Year in Books

I had a slim book reading year, unless you count Library Science textbooks and the picture books and books to begin on that I read for Kiddie Lit!  But, I did manage to read 26 books while working full-time and going to graduate school, so I guess that's not too shabby!  Here are my reads for 2010:

  1. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
  2. Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber
  3. Afterlife by Claudia Gray
  4. Always a Witch by Carolyn McCullough
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  6. 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
  7. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  8. The Secret Language of Girls by Frances O’Rourk Dowell
  9. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  10. Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  11. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  12. Impossible by Nancy Werlin
  13. Once a Witch by Carolyn McCullough
  14.  Ironside by Holly Black
  15. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  16. Need by Carrie Jones
  17.  Captivate by Carrie Jones
  18. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
  19. Lament:  The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater
  20. Hourglass by Claudia Gray
  21. Beastly by Alex Flinn
  22. The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
  23. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  24.  The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  25. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
  26. Darklight by Lesley Livingston
Later tonight, I"ll post my favorite five from this list.  It's a hard choice, but I think I have narrowed it down to only five!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Contest

Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm is holding a great contest to celebrate 1000 followers!  She is giving away 3 2011 books of your choice!  You will be able to order them from the Book Depository, so they can even be shipped internationally.

Check out her contest here.

“Unearthly” by Cynthia Hand

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart. (From

I procrastinated with this book because frankly, the previous galley from Harper Collins that I had reviewed was such a terrible read that I was almost afraid to jump into another new book.

Boy, did I ever make a mistake! I wish that I had read this book immediately after receiving the e-galley from the publisher! Now I’m just anxious that I will have to wait so long for the next book in the series to be published.

I fell in love with this book. Almost immediately, in fact. By the end of the first chapter, I found it hard to put down and by the time I was halfway through the book, not much of anything was going to pull me away from it!

I admit that I have been reluctant to jump on to the angel bandwagon. I have read the Mortal Instruments series, but the Shadowhunters don’t really seem very “angelic” to me. Now I can’t wait to pull out the 2 angel books waiting in my TBR pile!

I really liked Clara. She is a good, solid female lead character. She’s not silly, but she still feels like a normal teenage girl. I think the premise of the story is good and I enjoyed learning a lot more about angel lore.
Clara’s family is fun. Jeffrey is a great character and I’d like to see more of him in the future. I also like Angela a LOT although I still have questions about her that I’m hoping will be answered in the next book.
Christian Prescott was a nice surprise for me as a character. I really liked him. He’s a nice guy, not the snotty, stuck-up jock popular guy that he could be. Which makes everything more difficult later in the book, of course!

But the real winner as far as characters here is Tucker Avery! Talk about a show stealer! He may be a 17 year old high school boy, but I’m totally in love with him! Seriously! He made me want to pack up and move to Wyoming to find my own rugged cowboy! He is so perfect just because he’s not perfect. It was really refreshing to see the dream date be the average human for a change!

It’s hard to review this book without too many spoilers, but I’ll try to just give a few impressions. This story was so much fun because it really had so many twists and turns. Although there were a few hints here and there that made me wonder about some things, I was always surprised by how things turned out. Not in the “wow, that come out of left field” sort of way but in a very organic, revelatory way. After things happened, I could even see some of the groundwork that had been laid before to make the events believable.

With a carefully crafted story and a cast of fabulous characters, “Unearthly” is a book that you will not want to skip! I give this one a solid A+!

Trailer Tuesday!

Ok, I'm about 50 pages from finishing "Unearthly" by Cynthia Hand.  I will probably post a review for it tomorrow but I am so, so excited about this book that I thought I'd give you a sneak peek with the book tour trailer.

This book is amazing! I can't wait to write this review!

If the trailer makes you want to know more, then check out the author's blog here:

Writing Angels

And the book tour includes several very good books (and one that you all know I didn't really care for! Sorry!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Feature Friday

On this Feature Friday, I'm going to feature a new cover.  This is so exciting!!!  They have just revealed the cover for the 4th Mortal Instruments book, "The City of Fallen Angels"!

Isn't it gorgeous!  On her website, Cassandra Clare said that on each of the new books, they will feature 2 characters instead of 1 like on the first 3 books in the series.

I love these covers.  They are absolutely gorgeous and they made me pick up the books and look at them to begin with.

If the cover isn't enough for you, you can also read an excerpt from the first chapter.  Entertainment Weekly has an exclusive excerpt here on their website.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

I’m not sure where to even begin a review of this book.  I was really looking forward to reading it.  I have been enjoying some of the werewolf books that seem to abound these days.  Some wonderful examples of  books with werewolves include “Shiver” by Maggie Stiefvater, "Blood and Chocolate" by Annette Curtise Klaus or any of the werewolf books by Kelley Armstrong.

“Once in a Full Moon” was not one of those shining examples.  I hate to be mean, but I think I’ve read fanfiction that was better written than this book.  The main character was shallow and self-centered.  The story was banal and trite.  There is not one character that I really liked in this book, which is unfortunate.  Brandon had some possibility, but the reader never gets to see him much since the main character professes her love for him and then spends all of her time eating hot wings with her popular, athlete ex-boyfriend. 

I honestly never figured out what the purpose of this book was.  There was no resolution and there really was no storyline.  The dialogue and the characters lacked depth.  And I was never convinced that the 2 main characters were in love.  Now, I have heard criticism of “Twilight” and even “Romeo and Juliet” that claims that the characters fell in love too soon.  I am a diehard romantic at heart and I will definitely buy into the whole “love at first sight” thing if it’s done correctly.  In this book, it was NOT done correctly.

I appreciate that the publisher was willing to give me a galley copy of this book to read and I sort of feel bad that I'm posting a review that speaks so poorly of the book.  But honestly, I could not find one redeeming quality in this book.  Some of the lines were absolutely absurd and I couldn't believe that an editor would actually let them be printed. I had to force myself to actually finish the book.  Oh!  Wait a minute!  There is one thing that I liked.  The cover is very nice.

I was hoping that I would enjoy this book and then maybe find a reason to pick up the Vampire Kisses series by this author.  This book has convinced me that my first impression of those books is probably spot on.  What is that impression?  That cheese never goes well with monsters.

I did look at some "official" reviews and I noticed that some reviewers felt that the story lacked substance but that "teenage girls will still like it."  I have to say that lines like that make me quite angry.  I think that the teenage girls that I teach would be just as insulted by the banality of this book as I was.  Let's give those teens more credit than that.  Most teens that read a lot are very articulate and have high standards for what they read.  I can't think of any teenage girls that I know that would think highly of this book.

A grade?   Wow……I am always a teacher who has sympathy for kids who try.  I guess I could find a way to give this a D just for the fact that someone tried to write it.  But I would add a comment that says that readers are better off diving for stories on than spending time and money on this novel.

Theatrical Thursday

Many great YA books are being turned into movies, so I thought it would be cool to spotlight some movie news on Thursdays.

This week, there was a big announcement for fans of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series.  The casting decision has been made for the character of Clary!!

According to Cassandra Clare's website, Lily Collins has been cast in the role of Clary.  She recently appeared in "The Blind Side" with Sandra Bullock.  I think she's beautiful and looks perfect for the part!

I haven't seen "The Blind Side", but I may have to break down and watch it.  Of course, now everyone is waiting with baited breath to see who will be cast as Jace!  Any ideas on who you would like to see cast?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday Wish List

So, I've been helping the almost 3 year old think about a wish list for Santa and I realized that I miss making my own wish list!  Of course, my wish list would be mostly books, so I thought that I would go ahead and write one out.  These books would be my top 5 on the wish list.  What would yours be?  Leave them for me in the comments.

1.  Entice by Carrie Jones   

She left the last one on such a cliffhanger that I'm dying to get my hands on this one!

2.  Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

It's YA, it's about France and I'm a high school French teacher studying to be a high school librarian.  Enough said.

3.  The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

Ok, I'll admit that this book looks like total fluff, but the whole premise is just so intriguing to me!

4.  Matched by Ally Condie

The Hunger Games made me want to read tons and tons of dystopian fiction.  This one sounds amazing.

5.  Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

I like werewolf books but the thing I love most about this book is its cover.  Shallow?  Maybe.  But it's so gorgeous and the book has gotten rave reviews, so maybe there is something to be said about judging a book by its cover after all!

I"d love to read other people's wish lists!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Afterlife by Claudia Gray

Yes, this post is sort of like a Christmas miracle!  Now that my children's lit class is finally finished, I'm hoping I'll have time to start blogging again.  

So, I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Afterlife, the newest Claudia Gray novel from the Evernight series. Just a warning that this review might be a little spoiler-y!

How do I feel about this book?  Hmmmmm….it’s hard to sum it all up.  The story was fast-paced and I never lost interest in it.  I constantly wanted to see what was going to happen next.  So, in that sense, the book was fantastic. 

I found myself sympathizing with Team Jacob as I read this book, however.  I never thought that I would say that, but now I know how they all felt when Bella rejected Jacob in favor of Edward.  I am still having a hard time understanding why Bianca always chooses Lucas over Balthazar.  I can’t find one really redeeming quality about him.  And the more I read these books, the less I like Bianca.  I am so very Team Balthazar that it’s hard to say that I “enjoyed” this book.  Don’t get me wrong…..I really did enjoy the read.  The story goes places that I never dreamed and even though there is a sort of happy ending, it’s not one of those sugar-coated sort of endings where everyone lives happily ever after.

I enjoyed being able to learn more about the wraiths, also.  I wasn’t particularly happy when Bianca became a wraith in the 3rd book, so seeing a little about them and their world was nice.  Also, the whole plot with Ms. Bethany was quite entertaining and engaging.  It was nice to see Black Cross turn out to be just the bad guys that I thought they were.  Also, I think that I love Patrice as a character now.

So, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book but I’m really glad that the author is writing a series about Balthazar.  I absolutely love him and this book just made me realize even more what an idiot Bianca is for letting him go.  But since she doesn’t want him, then maybe I can have him??

Now, for a grade.......I'm going to say that this book is a solid B+.  It's definitely above average, but whiny Bianca who gives up Balthazar just keeps me from giving it an A.